Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Sophora secundiflora


SPECIES: Sophora secundiflora
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Uchytil, Ronald J. 1990. Sophora secundiflora. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : SOPSEC SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : SOSE3 COMMON NAMES : mescalbean sophora mescal-bean sophora mescal bean Texas mountain laurel mountain laurel Frijolillo Frigolito Frijollito Frijolito coralbean coral bean colorin big drunk bean red bean red-hots evergreen coralbean TAXONOMY : Mescalbean sophora is a memeber of the bean family Fabaceae. Its currently accepted scientific name is Sophora secundiflora (Gomez Ortega) Lag. ex DC. [12,16]. LIFE FORM : Tree, Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Sophora secundiflora
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Mescalbean sophora grows from southeastern New Mexico to central and western Texas and adjacent Mexico [15,16]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES32 Texas savanna FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe FRES34 Chaparral - mountain shrub FRES41 Wet grasslands STATES : NM TX MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont 14 Great Plains KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K031 Oak - juniper woodlands K045 Ceniza shrub K059 Trans-Pecos shrub savanna K060 Mesquite savanna K061 Mesquite - acacia savanna K078 Southern cordgrass prairie K086 Juniper - oak savanna SAF COVER TYPES : 66 Ashe juniper - redberry (Pinchot) juniper 68 Mesquite SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Mescalbean sophora is generally not a dominant but occurs as scattered individuals in many plant communities. It may become locally abundant in riparian deciduous forests.


SPECIES: Sophora secundiflora
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : Mescalbean sophora wood has no commercial value [28]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Mescalbean sophora is eaten by few animals. Rock squirrels eat the flowers [10]. PALATABILITY : Mescalbean sophora is unpalatable to livestock [10]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Mescalbean sophora leaves, flowers, and seeds contain several alkaloids, which make them poisonous to humans and animals [13]. Data from a nutritional analysis of mescalbean sophora plants from the Edwards Plateau region of Texas are presented below [11]: percentage of dry matter ----------------------------------------- date % water ash cell phos protein digestible collected wall org. matter seeds 6/28 6 3 35 0.11 12 85 leaves 6/28 50 6 41 0.10 17 57 leaves 7/27 52 6 46 0.12 18 53 COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Mescalbean sophora is easily propagated from seed but not from cuttings [21]. Container-grown plants are easily transplanted [21]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Mescalbean sophora is a widely used landscape plant in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona [5,21]. Plants are used as small specimen trees, and in hedges, screenings, and mass plantings [5,21]. Container-grown nursery plants are readily available for transplanting. Because the seeds are toxic to humans, they are sometimes removed from plants in landscape settings before they mature. The brightly colored seeds are very hard and were used by Indians as trade items and in necklaces and other jewelry [19,28]. The narcotic properties of the seeds were exploited by Indians, who ground the seeds and mixed the powder with mescal beverages to produce a powerfully intoxicating drink [28]. Mescalbean sophora seeds are found in Mexican good-luck charms. These charms consist of a small pouch that contains a magnet with iron filings, cereal grains, and the seeds of native plants [23]. Mescalbean sophora flowers are a source of nectar for honey bees [10]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Toxicity: The seeds of mescalbean sophora are highly toxic to humans. Symptoms of poisoning, which appear within 1 hour, include nausea, violent and bloody vomiting, headaches, vertigo, confusion, fever, excessive thirst, cold sweat, respiritory problems, followed by convulsions and death [23]. Mescalbean sophora's seeds, leaves, and flowers are poisonous to cattle, sheep, and goats [13,22]. Cattle are most susceptible to poisoning by leaves, while goats and sheep are more tolerant. Affected animals often recover if placed on a high-quality diet 22]. Pests: Plants are primarily pest-free, except for infestations by caterpillars of a moth in the family Pyralidae. Caterpillar infestations of mescalbean sophora have been controlled biologically with a strain of bacteria (Bacillus thuringensis), which causes the caterpillars to sicken and die [5]. Insecticide sprays such as Sevin or diazinon may also be useful [5]. Control: Plants are susceptible to phenoxy herbicides and are usually killed with one moderate application [18].


SPECIES: Sophora secundiflora
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Mescalbean sophora varies in size from a small shrub 3.3 feet (1 m) tall to a slender tree up to about 33 feet (10 m) tall [19,28]. This evergreen has upright branches, velvety twigs, and 4- to 6-inch-long (10-15 cm) pinnately compound leaves containing 5 to 13 leaflets [28]. Violet-colored flowers occur in showy, 2- to 4.75-inch-long (5-12 cm) terminal racemes [28]. The fruit is an oblong, brown, pubescent, 1- to 5-inch-long (2.5-12.5 cm), hard and woody, indehiscent pod that is somewhat constricted between the seeds [28]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Undisturbed State: Phanerophyte (microphanerophyte) Burned or Clipped State: Hemicryptophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Regeneration of mescalbean sophora is primarily sexual. Plants produce abundant seed; each seed pod contains one to eight seeds. The bright-orange to scarlet-red seeds are 0.5 inch (1.25 cm) long, globose to oblong, and hard and bony [7,28]. Fresh seeds reportedly germinate readily, requiring no scarification [21]. However, seeds have a hard seed coat, and older seeds must have this protective covering scarified before germination can occur. Under laboratory conditions, soaking seeds for 15 minutes in concentrated sulfuric acid resulted in 72 percent germination [7]. Seeds germinate over a wide range of temperatures. The highest germination was at constant temperatures of 68, 77, and 86 degrees F (20, 25, 30 C) and at alternating temperatures of 59 and 77 degrees F (15-25 C) and 68 and 86 degrees F (20-30 C) [7]. In the field, seedlings and freshly germinated seed were observed in late October after heavy rainfall [7]. Most plants sprout after damage to the aboveground portion of the plant, such as by fire [1]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Mescalbean sophora occurs in most mountain systems of western Texas and southern New Mexico [19]. Here it is usually found in limestone soils and occurs as scattered plants in canyons, on slopes, and along cliffs [3,19]. In the Del Norte Mountains of western Texas, mescalbean sophora is found on canyon slopes with paper shell pinyon (Pinyon remota), smooth sotol (Dasylirion leiophyllum), evergreen sumac (Rhus virens), mexican buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa), brickellias (Brickellia spp.), and agarito (Mahonia trifoliolata) [3]. In the Del Norte Mountains, it is also found in riparian deciduous woodlands with little walnut (Juglans microcarpa), desert willow (Chilopsis linearis), western honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa var. torreyana), and splitleaf brickellia (Brickellia laciniata) [3]. Mescalbean sophora occurs as scattered individuals in brushy vegetation across the Edwards Plateau and Rio Grande Plains of Texas [19]. In these regions it is also common in riparian deciduous forests dominated by Texas persimmon (Diospyros texana), American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), netleaf hackberry (Celtis reticulata), live oak (Quercus virginiana), cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia), pecan (Carya illinoensis), and Mexican ash (Fraxinus berlandieriana) [25,29]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Mescalbean sophora is considered a "secondary invader" of rangelands following brush control and burning [7]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Plants generally flower in March and April [21,28]. The pods mature in September [28].


SPECIES: Sophora secundiflora
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Mescalbean sophora sprouts (presumably from the root crown) following top-kill by fire [1,4]. Research is needed to determine whether fire will crack the hard seed coat of mescalbean sophora seeds and promote germination. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : survivor species; on-site surviving root crown or caudex


SPECIES: Sophora secundiflora
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Most fires presumably top-kill mescalbean sophora if sufficient fuels are available to sustain a hot fire. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Information concerning the response of mescalbean sophora to fire is scant. Ahlstrand [1] studied 3- to 7-year-old burns in the Guadalupe Mountains and reported that mescalbean sophora "reproduced and grew from vegetative sprouts after burning." It reportedly becomes abundant after fire and mechanical brush control on rangelands in central Texas [22]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO-ENTRY

References for species: Sophora secundiflora

1. Ahlstrand, Gary M. 1982. Response of Chihuahuan Desert mountain shrub vegetation to burning. Journal of Range Management. 35(1): 62-65. [296]
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3. Carignan, Jeanette M. 1988. Ecological survey and elevational gradient implications of the flora and vertebrate fauna in the northern Del Norte Mountains, Brewster Co., Tx. Alpine, TX: Sul Ross State University. 181 p. Thesis. [12255]
4. Cline, Paul S.; Ahlstrand, Gary M. 1979. The effect of fire on seed germination of selected shrub species. In: Sosebee, Ronald E.; Wright, Henry A., eds. Research Highlights--1979: Noxious brush and weed control; range and wildlife management. Vol. 10. Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University: 15. [12313]
5. Crosswhite, Carol D.; Randall, Cay. 1985. Damage to mescal bean (Sophora secundiflora) by a Pyralid moth (Uresiphita reversalis). Desert Plants. 7(1): 32. [12320]
6. Dayton, William A. 1931. Important western browse plants. Misc. Publ. 101. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 214 p. [768]
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11. Huston, J. E.; Rector, B. S.; Merrill, L. B.; Engdahl, B. S. 1981. Nutritional value of range plants in the Edwards Plateau region of Texas. Report B-1375. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University System, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. 16 p. [4565]
12. Kartesz, John T.; Kartesz, Rosemarie. 1980. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. Volume II: The biota of North America. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press; in confederation with Anne H. Lindsey and C. Richie Bell, North Carolina Botanical Garden. 500 p. [6954]
13. Kingsbury, John M. 1964. Poisonous plants of the United States and Canada. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 626 p. [122]
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17. Lyon, L. Jack; Stickney, Peter F. 1976. Early vegetal succession following large northern Rocky Mountain wildfires. In: Proceedings, Tall Timbers fire ecology conference and Intermountain Fire Research Council fire and land management symposium; 1974 October 8-10; Missoula, MT. No. 14. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 355-373. [1496]
18. Parker, Robert, compiler. 1982. Reaction of various plants to 2,4-D, MCPA, 2,4,5-T, silvex and 2,4-DB. [Revised EM 4419]. Pullman, WA: Washington State University, College of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension. 61 p. In cooperation with: U.S. Department of Agriculture. [1817]
19. Powell, A. Michael. 1988. Trees & shrubs of Trans-Pecos Texas including Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks. Big Bend National Park, TX: Big Bend Natural History Association. 536 p. [6130]
20. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843]
21. Smith, G. Shannon; Pittcock, Kim. 1989. The collector's quest. American Nurseryman. 169(1): 56-65. [12243]
22. Sperry, O. E.; Dollahite, J. W.; Hoffman, G. O.; Camp, B. J. 1964. Texas plants poisonous to livestock. Report B-1028. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Texas Agricultural Extension Service. 59 p. [23510]
23. Sullivan, Gerald; Chavez, Pedro I. 1981. Mexican good-luck charm potentially dangerous. Veterinary and Human Toxicology. 23(4): 259-260. [12240]
24. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1994. Plants of the U.S.--alphabetical listing. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 954 p. [23104]
25. Van Auken, O. W.; Ford, A. L.; Allen, J. L. 1981. An ecological comparison of upland deciduous and evergreen forests of central Texas. American Journal of Botany. 68(9): 1249-1256. [10559]
26. Van Auken, O. W.; Ford, A. L.; Stein, A. 1979. A comparison of some woody upland and riparian plant communities of the southern Edwards Plateau. The Southwestern Naturalist. 24(1): 165-180. [10489]
27. Van Dersal, William R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 362 p. [4240]
28. Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p. [7707]
29. Wood, Carl E.; Wood, Judith K. 1989. Riparian forests of the Leona and Sabinal Rivers. Texas Journal of Science. 41(4): 395-412. [11869]